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FOR RELEASE: August 24, 2004
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Plans Underway for Health Care Interpreters Certification Program

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Office of Minority Health is working with community partners to develop the first state-level Health Care Services Interpreters Certification Program.

“Our goal is to help provide a source for interpreters who understand medical terms in any language and are able to serve as communication conduits between medical providers and patients in numerous health care settings. We anticipate the actual testing process will not be in place until mid-2005,” said OSDH Minority Health Liaison Demetrio (J.R.) Gutierrez, Ed.D. “We want to make the development process open for public input and comment to try to meet the needs of the many types of health services that will need interpreters,” he noted.

One of the key organizations serving on a committee to develop this process is the OSU Institute for Issue Management and Alternative Dispute Resolution (IIMADR), which will manage the program. Numerous other business and community organizations in the Spanish-speaking community will also be involved. The committee is seeking to incorporate as many viewpoints as possible to help develop the Health Care Services Interpreters Certification Program in Oklahoma.

Some of the issues to be discussed include: (1) costs; (2) access and availability of testing for certification; and (3) forming work groups to develop standards, training, and testing materials. The OSU IIMADR will be responsible for the development of a computer application for tracking those that apply, test, certify and continue to provide certification services in Oklahoma. Further, a dispute resolution process as well as program and policy development will be discussed.

Additional issues for consideration include making the training mandatory or optional, providing continuing education credits, and developing a separate training and testing process for specific populations with special needs.

If your organization or business would like to be involved in the committee’s planning process to develop a Health Care Services Interpreters Certification Program, contact:

Demetrio (J. R.) Gutierrez, Ed. D.
Oklahoma State Department of Health
Office of Minority Health
1000 N.E. 10th St., Room 211.2
Oklahoma City, OK 73117
405/271-1337
Email: Demetrio@health.state.ok.us

Once the program is implemented and the testing begins, calls will be referred to the OSU IIMADR for information about testing dates, places, and training schedules.

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